This, my first story accepted by a national print journal, is now out and in the world as part of the Winter 2009 ‘Intelligent Design’ issue of New Madrid. (To purchase a copy, go to the Subscribe page and click the order form link: $8 for a single issue, $15 for a subscription.) It’s a terrific-looking journal I’m proud to be a part of; and their editorial staff are a real pleasure to work with.
This was one of four stories of mine presented in September 2008 by the New Short Fiction Series, and was performed by the actor Robert Standley. Here’s a taste:
Back then I walked straight by the drifters in Palisades Park, during my lunch break, or, like this day, after work. I stared ahead, taking in the long view of the Santa Monica Mountains as they sawed west into the Pacific and dragged the coastline with them. My gaze washed over these drifters: we are from different worlds, I had nothing to say to them. But I was struck by the hand-crafted oddity Thaddeus held: cedar-wood frame curved like a piano, a metal Star of David in the center. In its attention to detail, in its suggestion of a larger world, it reminded me of the architectural models I build all the time. I stopped and told him it was beautiful and asked what it was.
“You call it beautiful,” Thaddeus said, his black skin shining in the ragged shade of the palm he sat leaning against. “This is not a Work of Art for your museum gaze. It is a transmitter, for communication with the Other Beings. The same Beings Jesus left this Earth with. The same Beings who designed the Pyramids.”
“OK,” I said, setting down my briefcase, “I was just—“
“Yeah, you was just,” he said. “You was just just. You was justin’. Well sometimes just ain’t enough. Ninety-nine- and-a-half just won’t do. Wilson Pickett sang that, but it was a Gospel song first, did you know that?”
“Gospel means Good News, did you know that?”
I did but I shook my head, like he had things to teach me. I sat down on the edge of my briefcase. Thaddeus challenged me with his black eyes, knees folded to his chest. Today I could take on anything, anyone. It was Hannah’s third birthday. A week earlier we found out Emily was pregnant with our second child. I was sitting in on design meetings at the firm. I was feeling the good news.